| November 23, 2015
Case Analysis (due end of Week 14)
General Formatting Instructions

    Assignment length: 3-5 pages.
    Margins & Alignment: One inch top/bottom, 1” left/right flush left (creating uneven right margin).
    Font Size and Type: 12-pt. font (Times Roman or Courier are acceptable typefaces).
    Spacing: Double-space throughout the paper including the title page, body of the document, references, appendixes, footnotes, tables, and figure captions.
    Title page: Include one with the statement:"I have read and am aware of the university requirements regarding academic honesty." Your paper will not be accepted without this statement.
     Paragraph Indentation: 5-7 spaces.
     Pagination: The page number appears one inch from the right edge of the paper on the first line of every page beginning with the title page.
    In-text citation: APA style includes the last name of the author(s) and the date of publication (page numbers only if it is a direct quotation).
    References: APA style puts them on the last page (called “References”) and generally includes, Author(s) last name, first initial (date of publication) title of article, name of journal, volume(#), pages.
    Abstract: You do NOT need one for a paper of this size.

The overall purpose of the case analysis is to be able to concisely evaluate a seminal legal decision's rationale, explore its ramifications, and present a logical conclusion based upon whether current psychological research supports/refutes the ruling. Simply reporting the facts of the case is notenough! Analyze the ruling, comparing it to psychological research.

Ultimately, the question you should be answering is this:

Does current psychological research support/refute the logic of the court's ruling?

Your position must be based on empirical evidence.

Any appellate case with a full ruling could be chosen for the analysis. It will likely be easier to find material on cases decided by the US Supreme and Appellate Courts. However, cases decided by state courts may be more interesting, given their more limited focus. Original criminal cases are too specific and are not suitable for the assignment as they generally do not affect more than the victim and the defendant.

CAUTION: Not all death row appeals are acceptable. These appeals are automatic and/or often frivolous. To be usable, the case must have a full hearing and ruling. There are many appeals which are answered with, pretty literally, with the court just saying "no." Obviously there is nothing there to analyze. Cases like John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy may be interesting, but are not suitable for this assignment.

For the case analysis, you should summarize arguments on both sides of the case and the logic of the ruling and dissenting opinions. Discussing precedent(s) to the decision will improve the quality of your presentation. You also will discuss the ramifications of the decision.  Summarizing the facts of the case should be a minor portion of your paper, just enough to familiarize the reader with the main issues of the case.

Preparation of analysis requires research and thought; it is not a document based uniquely upon personal opinion. The arguments made and the positions selected must be drawn from data, expert opinion, and other documented sources. This generally means peer-reviewed scholarly journals, NOT newspaper/magazine articles or the textbook. A theme of the course is how the legal system does not always make good use of psychological research. Your role is to find any empirical research relevant to the chosen case and analyze if it could/should have made a difference in the ruling. Keep in mind the time period when the ruling was handed down and that there may have been research that occurred after the court decision that might change the nature of the issues.

Obviously, legal cases may be cited in the presentation of your position. However, it is important to remember that the purpose of the paper is an analysis of the psychological issues involved. The assignment is not to retry the case, argue the legal technicalities, or to summarize/opine on the details. Simply because a court ruled something was/was not proper doesn't mean the issue is resolved. It is perfectly acceptable to assert that the ruling was incorrect if you can cite empirical evidence that undercuts the logic of the ruling. (Of course, you may also find evidence that supports the ruling as well!)

This is your culminating project for the course! It should be approached with the focus and breadth of an assignment that will demonstrate your mastery of the content of this entire course.

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